Every January and February, I seem to develop a bit of a lentil obsession. It may be because we always make a traditional lentil dish to celebrate New Years, which reminds me of just how good lentils genuinely are. It may also be because at the start of a new year I find myself trying to eat healthier, so I am making a lot more soups and salads using legumes and whole grains. During the colder months, we often enjoy a big bowl of lentil soup chock full of veggies. It is both hearty and flavorful, and very comforting on a cold winter day. When I make soups, I try and add as many healthy ingredients as I can to fill each bowl full of nutritious goodness. For this version, I included some nutty farro, along with some chopped fresh kale. For this soup, do choose small brown or green lentils, not the larger orange lentils which get mushy once cooked.
Lentils are often an overlooked kitchen ingredient, but are nutrition powerhouses and are great braised as a side dish, or as added to soup or salads. Lentils are high in fiber, contain a broad range of beneficial plant compounds called phytochemicals, are an excellent source of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. They’re also a great source of plant-based protein and fiber. I included farro as well, which is a grain that we eat a lot of when we are at our home in Umbria because farro adds a delicious nutty flavor to everything it is added to. This ancient grain is also an excellent source of protein, fiber, and nutrients like magnesium, zinc, and some B vitamins.
I start most of my vegetable soups with a soffrito of chopped onions, carrots, celery, and garlic, which helps develop the soup base, and then I add tomatoes, chopped kale, lentils, and farro. The soup slowly simmers until the lentils and farro are just tender but not mushy. This flavor of this soup develops overnight and is even better the second day. To serve this soup, you can ladle it over grilled slices of crusty, Italian bread, or top with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a dollop of pesto, or a sprinkling of grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
Deborah Mele 2020
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
- 1 Medium Onion, Chopped
- 2 Carrots, Peeled & Chopped
- 3 Celery Stalks, Chopped
- 4 Garlic Cloves, Minced
- 1 Large Can Fire Roasted Chopped Tomatoes
- 1 (14 Ounce) Can Cherry or Small Roma Tomatoes
- 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 1 Cup Green or Brown Lentils
- 1/2 Cup Farro
- 3 Cups Finely Chopped Kale
- 4 Cups Vegetable Broth
- 2 + Cups Water
- 1 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- Salt & Peppers To Taste
- 1/2 Teaspoon Chili Powder
- 3 Tablespoons Fresh Chopped Parsley Leaves
- 3 Tablespoons Fresh Basil
- 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
- Garnish of Choice (See Notes Above)
- In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil until sizzling.
- Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and cook, stirring often until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and continue to cook a minute or two.
- Add the remaining ingredients except the lemon juice and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer, and continue to cook for about 25 minutes until the lentils and farro are tender but still hold their shape, adding additional water if the soup begins too thicken too much.
- When the soup is done, stir in the lemon juice.
- Serve warm or hot with garnish of choice.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 317 Total Fat: 15g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 12g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 902mg Carbohydrates: 40g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 11g Sugar: 10g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 11g